Saturday, 27 September 2014

Wave of Change and Uneasy Intelligentsia

Those who wrote editorials in newspapers have always been held in high esteem by every thinking mind. They are in different league. They are a notch above the rest. They have an opinion and they articulately share it. Growing up in a country where culture of reading was diminishing because the culture of writing had already deteriorated. These columnists were really the icons. Unfortunately, like all other noble vocations in this country, journalism has seen a decline. Plummeting quality of thought and questionable integrity of editorials due to 'inclinations' has taken away their true strength. Most of the columnists have blatantly chosen sides with political forces in the country.  
For the last couple of months, newspapers have been bombarded with editorials which focus mainly on two aspects. Firstly, the biased media coverage of two dharnas which is mainly a media wrangling issue. Secondly, they speculate on the script writers of dharnas and do not stop short of blaming the hidden hand of establishment for articulation of current situation. The scribes of the articles rightly bash biased TV/ media/ anchors for shaping public opinion. Likewise, they try to prove that there is only one villain in this country i.e. establishment and to be more precise military establishment. Well decency warrants that we must admit, everyone has an opinion which should be respected. Yet, we must run the issue  through furnace of intellectual rigor.

Pakistan has reached where we brought it as a nation. Each one of us and every single institution has to accept the share of blame. In editorials, our respected columnists take on only aforesaid issues, whereas, corruption in all institutions, poor governance, absence of political acumen, foreign involvement in our policy decisions, unconditional surrender to foreign powers’ demands and the list goes on, does appear to them to sit at the roots of our troubles which is not different from how media dupes this nation. It is biased and meant to serve some vested interest, as is the custom these days. Journalistic integrity is under scrutiny for right reasons.  

Current wave of political awareness among the commoners has broken inertia of status quo. Stereotyping in politics and in other fields is a thing of past now. Like all harbingers of status quo, it has perturbed our stereotype intelligentsia as well. It seems that intelligentsia is singing to the same tune as our nervous conventional political entities and other champions of status quo. They also seem too concerned about the changing canvas of the nation’s outlook. Select few read in this country and very few read editorials. It has been an easy medium to share or shape the opinions of those who could read English because they are the ones who really mattered. Things have changed. Now, every evening, most of the writers of editorials come on air and share their opinions with public. People can clearly see the bias, inclination, changing tone and tenure and vulnerabilities of these opinion makers. Typical status of Holy Cow to concerti of cognoscenti is no more.  Duping public is not that easy anymore and our intelligentsia is visibly upset about that. Consequently, the hatred and condescendence for the forerunners of change like Imran Khan and Tahir Ul Qadri is obvious in words and opinions of our intelligentsia.

Well, intelligentsia has a larger role than just shunning off the wave of change that also threatens the niche of status quo where they have been basking for over half a century. They must step ahead and put in their share to steer the ship of this country out of dire straits. They must correct
those dharna parties and render valuable advice to govt and establishment to mend their ways and apply corrections to their adopted strategies. Whether someone pays heed to it or not, journalistic responsibility warrants that thinking minds of opinion makers must continue the good work. They must not choose sides. It should not appear from their writings that they are on payroll of any stakeholder in the power matrix of this country. The nobility of this profession must not be tarnished.  

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Ten Points of Difference with Imran Khan’s PTI

There is a need to take stock of PTI’s approach to politics in the wake of Azadi March. There are many loose ends which warrant tidying up like vision, leadership, decision making, organization and performance. Time for PTI to face few facts:-

1.            Timing of Azadi March. Mere fourteen months in to the govt, PTI should have given time to the ruling party to commit more blunders. PML (N) leadership is prone to axing own feet e.g. Model Town massacre, ever expanding family business, nepotism, abuse of power through police and other institutions of the state.  It was a matter of time, ruling party, would have lost moral authority to rule the country. Rigging allegation was a potent tool to maintain requisite political pressure on the govt but all out Azadi March should have waited a little more.

2.            KPK Performance. Having formed govt in KPT, PTI needed to make a difference with her performance. There were few heartening indicators of good governance in KPK which needed to mature to create an impact. Secondly, PTI failed to promote her good work which it had done so far in KPK.

3.            Political Support.          IK has opted for solo political flight and appears to be politically isolated. Let alone parliamentary parties, Jamat-e-Islami, despite being his ally in the KPT govt, did support his political move. Although, Dr Qadri’s PAT is in direct support of Azadi March, yet it is not being recognized as a relevant political force. PAT is not part of parliament and partly for her peculiar theological undertone. Concerted effort must have gone in to muster sufficient political support before embarking upon an Azadi March of this scale. Indeed other political forces prefer to maintain status quo, still their political relevance should have not been disregarded. Extensive political maneuvering before Azadi March could have pacified synchronized opposition by govt and remaining political forces.

4.            Nexus with PAT
.           Aura of romance keeps us from realistic appraisal of consequences, naturally resulting in unhappy & untimely breakups. This is the story of love affair between PTI & PAT. Commonalities are few and far between like unison march to Islamabad and political support to each other’s agenda. However, destination of both is wide apart. PTI stands for fall of govt and re-election remaining within current political system. Whereas, PAT stands for complete makeover of the system. Suppose if PM resigns, PTI would want quick re-election but PAT will not be satisfied with this. In short, it seems that no real deliberation has gone in on end state of current political crisis by PTI & PAT. They seem content with dealing with things on issue to issue basis but there is a strong possibility that there will be serious consensus issue between these parties if things move to next level from current stalemate.

5.            Party Organization. Tremendous amount of work needed to be done on party organization of PTI. It is a GT Road and internet party. Except Karachi, PTI has zero representation in Sindh. Situation is no different in Balochistan. At least, couple of rigorous years were needed to establish the party where it was non-existent. Likewise, in Punjab and KPK, further strengthening of party roots was required. Even if elections are announced today, PTI will face serious problems like 2013 General Elections to nominate the candidates. Party is banking too much on personality and charisma of IK. This may yield short term political gains but philosophy of ‘Naya Pakistan’ may be laid to rest with IK’s exit from political scene.

6.            On Javed Hashmi episode and many other incidences, IK appeared to be stereotype political leader, who could not take no for an answer.  There might be hundred reasons for JH’s exodus but the handling of the issue was done in an apolitical fashion. He could have called core committee’s session and sent him off in a democratic way. Patience, tolerance to resistance within and outside party and political flexibility are much desired from political leadership at national level.

7.            IK has been equated with Quaid-e-Azam by some enthusiasts. Does not seem to be a fair parallel. Particularly, Quaid-e-Azam was a political genius who was a man of principles and great patience. Being a fast bowler, IK admitted himself that he lacked patience which is amplified by his untimely Azadi March. Few are reminded of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when they see huge crowds gathering on his call. Again, an unwarranted comparison. Political acumen of ZAB was much superior. Other pronounced difference was that when ZAB announced he was going to bring middle class to assemblies, he gave party tickets to lower middle class and lived by his word. Whereas, there are serious question marks on IK’s ticket distribution and credibility of his close aides.


PTI fielded young and energetic spokesperson
           media and talk shows like Murad Khan, Aysha Gulalai Wazir, Naz Baloch etc who lacked political depth and authority to fight party’s case. Senior leadership was also visible but most of the air time went to these young guns. A bold initiative which did not pay off.

9.            Conservative outlook of our society is a reality. This sensitivity must be respected. Female section of crowd doing Luddi and dance moves did not go down well. Opponents exploited this for political point scoring and non-political segment of society did not really endorse this. Albeit, the tendency has been curbed after initial few days.
10.     Lastly, the Maximalist approach of not calling off Azadi March without PM’s resignation is not convincing. Govt has a right of dillydallying. It is PTI, who has to play her cards wisely. Even if PTI is handed over the country now, it is presently not in a shape to run the affairs of the state. Unless there is reliable party structure in place down to grass root level, this type of demand will discredit PTI. Leadership of PTI needed few more years to fully mature. They had a golden opportunity to fix the nut bolts of their party while running affairs of KPK. Integrity is a priceless attribute, but it is not the only attribute necessary to run the affairs of a country. IK often refers to the welfare state of Medina but somehow it is felt that he did not carefully study the political acumen, vision and wisdom of the Leader (PBUH) and Chief Executive (PBUH) of that state.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Poem: 'Roaring Lions' of The Parliament

What a spectacle, the high rhetoric at the Parliament
‘Roars of Lions’, we heard, coming out the Parliament

Hitherto, a derelict building, the ruin of democracy
Came to bloom, a sanctuary or refuge, this Parliament

Ka’aba they named it, mother they called it, when
Status quo felt danger, building which is Parliament

Champions of vested interests, business or family
Bravo Parliamentarians, have no other compliment

Buildings are sacred when men of honour grace them
Hide not behind this building, the house of Parliament

Inertia broken by tremors of change, has kindled hope
That this building, will soon become a real Parliament  

Asad Jamal, 4 September 14

Monday, 1 September 2014

Javed Hashmi- An Ego Slave 'Rebel'

Javed Hashmi’s resignation is prompted by his Ego. Since he was ignored in important decision making of the party, he could not take it. From deep inside PTI, it is being alleged that his role was extremely dubious in party ticket allocation before General Elections of 2013. This led to gulf between JH & IK which kept growing. Though, he was given due respect all the way.

His political career depicts anything but stability. PPP of ZAB, worker of IJT, JI of  Modudi, Minister of Zia ul Haq, leading figure of PML (N), joined PTI on condition of
 becoming president. His gamble of joining PTI did not pay off as PML (N), by hook or by crook, formed central govt. He could not hide emotional association with Nawaz Sharif during his first address to the parliament. It would be harsh to declare him a mole but he never made a conscious effort to dispel this impression.

First press conference of Javed Hashmi was act of resentment. However, once he was publically disowned by IK, he unleashed on PTI, IK, Army and even judiciary. It could not be termed anything other than an act of desperation. He has stepped up his allegations against Army and DG ISI in a bizarre way. His anger, dissatisfaction with his party and hurt ego, are all his personal problems. It does not give him a license to level baseless allegations against state institutions. His behavior has only dented the kind of public stature he claims to have. He is only being lauded by the ruling party whose own moral standing is under question.

Lastly, ruling party’s ardent desire to malign army has turned in to demonic obsession. They must thank army for issuing a one liner clarification on issue of mediation. Army is showing unprecedented patience and restrain with govt without due acknowledgement and reciprocation. Like past few months, ministers of govt in their private talks, do not hesitate in blaming army for their woes. We have seen few glimpses of their private talks at public forums as well. As the adage goes, a bad workman blames his tools. Govt is not ready to apply few corrections in her approach to issues rather continues to fix blame on ‘hidden hands’ for her own mishandling, high-handedness, inflexible posturing and lack of political wisdom..
Outcome of current political crisis hangs in balance. But it must be said that whole issue is not dealt with properly. Politicians failed to play politics. Parliament remained hostage to forerunners of status quo. They continued to hide behind ‘mandate’ notwithstanding the fact that those who are out on streets do not accept the validity of this mandate. Unless legitimacy of this mandate is established, it will be difficult to rule this country henceforth. Even if govt survives current political typhoon, it will remain a weak govt.